Icebreaker report to congress 7/2014

Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background and Issues for Congress Only 44 pages. Maybe, someday, they will build one(with guns for c.captain).

I don’t understand why they even consider bringing USCGC Polar Sea back to service. Polar icebreakers face some of the harshest operating conditions on this planet and the USCG intends to use a 40-year-old vessel with an overly complicated propulsion system plagued by mechanical problems. I would expect more from a nation that once put a man on the Moon…

Also, I still don’t understand why it takes 10 years to design and build an icebreaker. Is it a side project you only work on the weekends?

IMO, Coast Guard’s deepwater program shows their vessel designs are way more thought out than the Navy’s lawn dart LCS.
The successor design to polar class has prob a 40 year design life span- 10 years is excessive for design and build but I guess that’s what it takes.

[QUOTE=salt’n steel;140851]10 years is excessive for design and build but I guess that’s what it takes.[/QUOTE]

I’ve seen how a completely new type of icebreaker was designed in about six months, after which the shipbuilding contract was ready to be signed. Within two years, the shipyard will carry out basic and manufacturing design, and deliver the vessel by the winter of 2016. It’ll cost about $170 million and is intended to remain in service for 50 years.

With the exception of the Canadian icebreaker, which is stuck behind some naval supply vessels in a very inefficient yard, every major icebreaker project published recently will be delivered within the next five years. That also includes a new nuclear-powered icebreaker for Russia.

But how many of those are being built in good old American union run yards? When you add in the breaks, the long lunches, 12 holidays a year and 4 hours a day of picking your nose since they can’t fire you for not working, those 3-5 year contracts in the EU turn into 10 year contracts in the US.

[QUOTE=txwooley;140909]But how many of those are being built in good old American union run yards?[/QUOTE]

Well, they say Edison Chouest is building two icebreaking AHTS vessels, but I have no information about their specs or when they’ll be launched - that company just won’t give out any data! Now that Sikuliaq has been delivered, I don’t think there’s any other icegoing tonnage of any caliber under construction in the US. I don’t think even the guys working on the Polar-class replacement project know [I]where[/I] the icebreaker will be built, apart from the fact that it’ll be built somewhere in the US.

[QUOTE=txwooley;140909]But how many of those are being built in good old American union run yards? When you add in the breaks, the long lunches, 12 holidays a year and 4 hours a day of picking your nose since they can’t fire you for not working, those 3-5 year contracts in the EU turn into 10 year contracts in the US.[/QUOTE]

Those overturned five gallon buckets get lonely without a butt planted in them, you know.

The path of least resistance is to refit the Polar Sea but im sure that would be a gravy train for whatever shipyard got awarded the job. In top of millions in cost over runs the taxpayer might see only 10 more years of extended life out of it.

[QUOTE=salt’n steel;140949]The path of least resistance is to refit the Polar Sea but im sure that would be a gravy train for whatever shipyard got awarded the job. In top of millions in cost over runs the taxpayer might see only 10 more years of extended life out of it.[/QUOTE]

I know it. Cost overruns in the form of change orders. It’s the American Way!

[B]U.S. Needs New Heavy Icebreaker to “Assure Access” to the Arctic[/B]

WASHINGTON, Oct 21 (Reuters) – The United States needs billions of dollars of new equipment including ice-breaking ships, better satellite service and fiber-optic networks as it prepares for climate change and melting ice in the Arctic, a top U.S. official said on Tuesday.

The total cost will not be clear until the U.S. government inventories its investment needs, former Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert Papp, who became the first U.S. special representative for the Arctic Region in July, told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.

Papp said the United States should also explore other possible models for funding, including asking companies that want to mine minerals and oil in the Arctic contribute to the infrastructure needed to ensure their safety.

“We haven’t put a lot of resources into taking care of the basics of maritime transportation through the waters of the Arctic,” Papp said, adding that he hoped U.S. leadership of the eight-nation Arctic Council from 2015 would attract attention to the challenges created by the shrinking of the Arctic ice cap.

The Arctic is drawing interest from energy, mining, shipping and other companies keen to benefit from development of a new frontier, although the austere climate and brief season for human activity will likely keep those efforts at a slower pace.

“At some point in time, particularly if there is year-round activity, you’re going to have to invest in the resources,” said Papp, who has been pressing U.S. lawmakers for years to fund a new heavy ice-breaking ship valued at about $1 billion.

Budget pressures have slowed investment in new programs, particularly since the U.S. military does not anticipate defense challenges in the Arctic for another decade, but Papp said greater access and traffic in the Arctic were already increasing national security risks in a broader sense.

“You need assured access,” he said, noting that it had been sheer luck that the Coast Guard had had an ice-breaker nearby when a fuel tanker got stuck in the ice near Nome, Alaska about three years ago. At that point, it was the only such U.S. vessel, [U]while Russia had more than 40 ice-breaker ships[/U], Papp said.

Papp said it cost the Coast Guard over $120 million to fix the Polar Star ice-breaker so it could remain in service through 2025, but it would cost more to upgrade the Polar Sea, moored in Seattle, since the Coast Guard had raided the ship for parts.

New U.S. navigation and communications satellites were also needed since the current systems are optimized for middle latitudes and are unreliable and inaccurate at higher latitudes.

Alaska would also need new fiber-optic networks to transfer data as more and more companies ventured north, a deep water port to handle any future crises and potentially additional hangars for servicing Coast Guard and military aircraft.

As oil companies prepared to drill in the Arctic, it was critical for oil companies like Royal Dutch Shell and the Coast Guard to test and train for potential oil spills, Papp said, citing the lack of knowledge about how to deal with such an event in the freezing cold Arctic waters.

While I agree with Admiral Papp - the US needs new icebreakers - I’m not sure if all those 40 alleged Russian icebreakers can be compared to USCGC Healy. At the moment, the Russian-flagged icebreakers (excluding river icebreakers and port icebreakers) in service are the following:

  • four triple-shaft Arktika-class nuclear-powered polar icebreakers (Rossiya, Sovetskiy Soyuz, Yamal and 50 Let Pobedy);
  • two triple-shaft Taymyr-class nuclear-powered shallow-draft polar icebreakers (Taymyr and Vaygach);
  • two twin azimuth drive LK-16 class icebreakers for the Baltic Sea (Moskva and Sankt-Petersburg);
  • three old quad-shaft Baltic Sea icebreakers bought from Finland and Sweden (Tor, Karu and Dudinka);
  • three old triple-shaft polar icebreakers (Ermak, Krasin and Admiral Makarov);
  • four slightly newer triple-shaft polar icebreakers (Kapitans Sorokin, Khlebnikov, Nikolaev and Dranitsyn; Kapitan Sorokin has been ruined with a Thyssen-Waas bow);
  • three twin-shaft sub-polar icebreakers (Mudyug, Magadan and Dikson; Mudyug has been ruined just like Kapitan Sorokin);
  • one triple azimuth drive icebreaking rescue vessel that can go sideways in ice (Baltika);
  • two twin azimuth drive icebreakers operating at the Varandey oil terminal (Varandey and Toboy);
  • nine modern twin azimuth drive icebreaking offshore vessels; and
  • four vintage icebreaking offshore vessels bought from the Canadians and a bunch of other offshore vessels with marginal icegoing capability.

In addition, there are three upgraded LK-16 class twin azimuth drive icebreakers (Murmansk, Vladivostok and Novorossiysk), one LK-25 class hybrid propulsion (two azimuth thrusters and one shaftline) icebreaker (Viktor Chernomyrdin), two icebreaking twin azimuth drive rescue vessels (Beringov Proliv and Murman), four twin azimuth drive heavy icebreaking offshore vessels and one or two triple-shaft LK-60 class nuclear-powered icebreakers under construction.

Or these, I’d count out at least the vintage Canadian vessels, maybe even some of the newer icebreaking offshore vessels, the three sub-polar icebreakers, the oblique icebreaker Baltika and the old quad-shafts. That would leave us… hmm… 20-25 vessels depending on where we draw the line? From what I have heard, not all of those 70s polar icebreakers are in full service (that is, have all of their nine main engines in working order) anymore either. It’s not very easy to compare different types of icebreakers anyway.

Of course, even just a few is still more than one…

The 1st paragraph tells you about our government.

ONLY the USA needs Billions for Ice Breakers to prepare for MELTING ICE!!! ROFLMA

[QUOTE=AB Murph;146676]The 1st paragraph tells you about our government.

ONLY the USA needs Billions for Ice Breakers to prepare for MELTING ICE!!! ROFLMA[/QUOTE]

The polar ice pack is becoming smaller and thinner, but it’s not disappearing completely - there will still be ice year round for the time being, and seasonal ice will linger even after that is gone. The easier operational conditions will result in increased activity such as transportation along the northern passages (Northern Sea Route and Northwest Passage) as well as both onshore and offshore resource exploitation. For this reason, the United States Coast Guard should rebuild its icebreaker fleet to carry out the same tasks it does in ice-free regions (law enforcement and rescue operations to name a few).

I know that some members here are dreaming of armed icebreakers, but personally I’m against making icebreakers warships. A slow and expensive icebreaker is, in my opinion, a very bad weapons platform. Thus, I’d stick to small arms (up to .50 cal) for law enforcement and polar bear protection, and leave the defense stuff to the military. Nothing moves quickly in ice, so there should be enough time to call up an F-22 or F-35 armed with anti-ship missiles from Alaska or wherever the nearest base is. A more personal problem is that it’s a pain in the ass to design an armed vessel to a foreign nation due to all that security crap.

In my opinion, the best way to proceed now would be to team up with the Canadians who have been working on the most advanced and most capable diesel-electric polar icebreaker for couple of years now. The USCG could still deviate from the current design by adapting the internal arrangement to their specific needs. In that way, they could shave years from the design work which seems to take ages in that part of the world and start thinking about actually building the ship. If they could just find a shipyard to build it (and not build a shipyard first like the Canadians seem to be doing), I’m sure there would be plenty of experienced icebreaker designers and builders on the old continent willing to lend a hand in the basic and manufacturing design to get the work started as soon as possible. I don’t know how quickly they could launch the first ship, but it wouldn’t take ten years…

In addition to the icebreaker fleet, Russia has a bunch of other ships capable of independent navigation in ice and more are coming in the near future:

Russia’s state-owned shipping company Sovcomflot has placed its first order for a $316 million worth liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier.

The 299m long vessels, which are intended for the Russian Yamal LNG project, will be built by Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME).

They will have independent ice-breaking capabilities that enable them to sail in icy seas ice up to 2.1m thick, and will transport LNG from the Yamal LNG plant at the Port of Sabetta to main LNG markets around the world.

So, we’re talking about a ship that is almost 300 metres long and about 50 metres wide, and can theoretically outrun most “real” icebreakers.

To the US Congress:



Here’s something interesting published last month:

This Request for Information (RFI) is issued by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) Polar Icebreaker Replacement Project Office as a means of market research. The USCG is interested in finding both (1) A candidate for heavy polar icebreaker designs, as well as (2) United States (US) shipyards that are capable of building a heavy polar icebreaker.

This RFI is issued as a precursor to a potential non-nuclear polar icebreaker procurement program, and may assist the USCG in further developing an acquisition strategy for the construction of non-nuclear heavy icebreakers.

Information on designs submitted must be based on:

  1. Proven, currently in-service vessels that are capable of being built in the US;
  2. In-service vessel designs that are capable of being licensed for building in the US;
  3. Variants of in-service vessel designs capable of being licensed in the US; or
  4. For new designs or new construction, also include details regarding its current status and expected in-service date.

This gives me an impression that USCG is not interested in tailor-made solutions. Instead, they are looking for existing vessels that could be “replicated” by an American shipyard or, at most, a new design or construction which someone has already approved and ordered. While this is not a big issue since that all the technology needed to build a good polar icebreaker is already in service in one form or another, it gives an impression that the USCG is looking to every other direction except forward.

At a minimum, a heavy icebreaker design must be able to perform, or capable of being modified to perform, the following performance characteristics:

Ice Breaking
• Capable of breaking ice independently at 3 kts (6 ft) (threshold) 3 kts (8 ft) (objective).
• Capable of breaking ice with a thickness of 21 ft using the back and ram method.

3 knots in 6-8 ft ice is a reasonable requirement and can be met with current modern polar icebreaker designs and reasonable propulsion power.

I don’t know who originally came up with the latter requirement. I’ve seen it numerous times when discussing the icebreaking capability of the USCG Polar-class icebreakers. From the bottom of my heart, I hope that no-one thinks this refers to solid ice. That would practically refer to highly consolidated multi-year ice ridge or an iceberg, neither of which are ice features you want to collide with your icebreaker. However, if it refers to conventional pressure ridges - a typical ice feature in icy seas - it’s not a big issue. However, there are better ways of tackling with ridges than backing and ramming. Think backwards…

This RFI seeks to identify available US shipyards with adequate facilities or the ability to enhance current infrastructure to build at least one heavy polar icebreaker. For heavy icebreaker construction, the shipyard must have the capability forming compound curves utilizing approximately 1-3/4" (71# plate) steel.

I hope they stick to this requirement. You can’t build a good polar icebreaker if you’re stuck to straight plates and chines…

It takes a decade for the USCG to get a new polar icebreaker, but the Russians are not getting their new toy anytime soon:

LK-25 aka “Viktor Chernomyrdin” is 24-28 months behind schedule.